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Afternoon Edition: Jan. 6, 2022

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

An image alleged to depict James Robert Elliott of Aurora during the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol breach. 
Joseph Rushmore

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

This afternoon will be mostly cloudy with a chance of flurries and a high of 16 degrees. Tonight will be mostly cloudy with a chance of flurries, a low around 1 and wind chill values as low as minus-15. Tomorrow will be sunny with a high near 14 and wind chill values as low as minus-15.

Top story

The hard right in Illinois, one year after the Jan. 6 attack

Though heavily Democrat, Illinois is not immune from the forces that led to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by Donald Trump supporters intent on preventing Congress from formalizing President Joe Biden’s election.

Election denial. Emboldened right wing groups at Chicago area events. Some 20 federal prosecutions of Illinoisans in the Capitol on Jan. 6 with more to likely come. Even a member of Congress from Illinois who is planting seeds to cast doubt on the 2022 election results.

In a special report, a team of Sun-Times reporters reviewed and previewed the rising right in Illinois and brewing threats to our democracy — Tom Schuba, who has reported on far-right extremism in the state; Jon Seidel, who follows the federal court cases of the 20 from Illinois facing Jan. 6-related charges and, in Washington, Lynn Sweet, who tracks the Illinois political fallout.

Among the Illinoisans charged with participating in the insurrection is Bradley Rukstales of Inverness. Rukstales, the onetime CEO of a Schaumburg tech company, became the first known Illinois resident to face federal charges for his role in the Capitol breach when prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against him and five others Jan. 7, 2021.

One year later, Rukstales will likely soon become the first Illinoisan imprisoned as part of the massive prosecution that followed. A judge ordered Rukstales to surrender Feb. 1 to a Michigan prison to serve a 30-day jail sentence.

But Rukstales is just one of at least 20 Illinois residents to face charges related to the Capitol riot. Only two others, Douglas Wangler and Bruce Harrison of the Danville area, have managed to resolve their cases. Each received probation for spending about 20 minutes inside the Capitol.

That leaves the fate of 17 Illinois residents — including a Chicago police officer — up in the air. More than 725 people have been arrested nationwide.

Most Illinois defendants face misdemeanor charges alleging they wrongly entered the Capitol. At least two are accused of making their way to the Senate floor. Some are accused of violence. Prosecutors say James Robert “Jim Bob” Elliott, from Aurora, assaulted officers with a flagpole and faces a maximum 20-year sentence. They also say he admitted his membership in the far-right Proud Boys group.

Four Illinoisans are awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty like Rukstales, Wangler and Harrison. But it’s unclear how many of the remaining cases against Illinoisans will be resolved. Some defendants from Illinois could face trial.

Read the full report from Sweet, Schuba and Seidel here.

More news you need

  1. Three men have been charged with killing two people and wounding nine others last Halloween at a party in Joliet Township. The men were arrested over the last two months and charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Holly Mathews and Jonathan Ceballos, both 22.
  2. A parent was carjacked at gunpoint while waiting to pick up her child at a middle school in Oak Park yesterday afternoon, police say. No injuries were reported and extra police patrolled the nearby area today at the school’s request.
  3. Former U.S. Education Secretary and CPS CEO Arne Duncan said today he’s being urged to run for mayor by business leaders concerned about Chicago’s future — and he cracked the door open to answering the call. Fran Spielman has more on Duncan’s comments about a potential mayoral run in 2023.
  4. Peter Bogdanovich, the writer-director of the 1971 iconic black-and-white film “The Last Picture Show,” has died at 82. The Oscar-nominated director reportedly died of natural causes at his Los Angeles home today.
  5. As cases of COVID-19 continue to surge, a number of Chicago’s productions and events have been halted by the pandemic once again — but many events will still go on. From the Bowie Ball to arthouse films and “Oklahoma!” we’ve got a stacked lineup of area events happening in the week ahead.

A bright one

Grants to local community groups will help archive untold history

Ahmed Flex Omar left Somaliland when he was just 3 because of war and grew up in the United Arab Emirates before coming to Chicago at the age of 19.

In 2001, shortly after his arrival, Omar brought his younger sisters to come live with him and assumed the responsibility of not only being their brother but also their parent, as he was the only one able to work and provide for them.

The self-taught network infrastructure engineer was lucky enough to find work on the West Side building computer labs; that’s when he started seeing the economic disparities facing the community.

Ahmed Flex Omar, founder and deputy director of the Muslim American Leadership Alliance, stands at the Chicago Cultural Center, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Omar’s story is just one of countless stories about Black Muslims that have gone untold or unnoticed — something he has been working to amplify for the past six years through his Muslim American Leadership Alliance. A new $25,000 grant from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation is hoping to help the group — and others like it — to move forward.

The oral history project will happen over the next year with stories being collected from Black Muslims in Chicago and shared across social media platforms, catalogued on Spotify and recorded digitally at the Library of Congress. The project is about reclaiming the narrative of what it means to be a Black Muslim in Chicago.

This grant is part of Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation’s “Broadening Narratives” initiative that aims to support collections projects in underrepresented places.

Nearly $1.2 million has been distributed to 11 groups in Chicago and South Carolina’s Lowcountry; eight of the groups are based in the Chicago area. The goal is to prioritize art and historical collections of working class communities, LGBTQ communities, and Black, indigenous and people of color.

Manny Ramos has more on the grants and the local community groups benefiting here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

How do you think future generations will remember the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol?

Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday we asked you: What advice do you have for new dog owners in the city?

Here’s what some of you said…

“Give them lots of love and attention. Pick up after their necessities, train them, protect their paws on extreme weather and make sure you have the time and energy to care for another living thing!” — Yadid Bolaños Espinoza

“Take a bag with you when you walk your dog.” — Virginia Davis

“Buy your dog boots and train them to tolerate them. Most people don’t use pet-friendly salt and it can do serious damage to your dog's feet during the winter months.” — Jared Bears

“Just because your dog is friendly — mine might not be.” — Rick Reineke

“Walk them as much as possible. Go to dog parks and the dog beach.” — Angela Goffrier Valentin

“Dogs like to look out the window. Build a platform with steps for their long hours home alone.” — James Whiteside

Thanks for reading the Chicago Afternoon Edition. Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

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